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Letter ReferenceKarl Pearson 840/4/3/160-161
ArchiveUniversity College London Library, Special Collections, UCL, London
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter Date16 December 1886
Address From9 Blandford Square, Paddington, London
Address To2 Harcourt Buildings, Temple, London
Who ToKarl Pearson
Other VersionsRive 1987: 118
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
The Project is grateful to University College London (UCL) and its Library Services for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Special Collections. The date of this letter has been derived from the postmark on an attached envelope, while the address it was sent to is on its front. Schreiner was resident in Blandford Square from early October to late December 1886, when she left England for Europe.
1 Dear Mr Pearson
3 I am afraid Dr Donkin in his kindness must have written to you telling
4you I was very bad. I’m much better than last week. I shall not be
5able to leave today but will be well enough in a couple of days. Don’t
6trouble to come if busy. And please we won’t mention Mrs Cobb & you’ll
7just have talk about our work, like we used to have last year when you
8came to see me. What I want now is intellectual incitement to work, &
9that always you give to all.
11 It’s Thank you so much for your last letter. You have shown yourself
12true & strong.
14 If I go away I will send you or Mr Parker a long paper for the club,
15that perhaps afterwards in finding its faults you might find useful in
16working the physiology part of your book. I haven’t slept four nights
17but last
19 ^night they gave me morphia & now I’m quite a respectable person.
20 OS.^
22 ^Don’t come unless you want to please. I’ve few ideas, you will have to
23bring all to me. Thank you for speaking so truthfully to me.
24 Olive
26 I’m going to Switzerland but I don’t know where till I get there, &
27when I’ve earnt more money I’m going to Italy or the Cape.^
This letter has been archived together with a letter from Bryan Donkin to Pearson of 15 December 1886 (Pearson 840/4/3), as follows:

'I saw Miss S. this morning. She did not mention you: and I did not tell her that I had seen you. She seems utterly smashed. It will be better for her to go as soon as possible; so we are doing all we can to get her off tomorrow. From what I can see there would be no good your writing further unless you feel as I do that somehow or other there must have been something said by some one to explain any suspicion she may have now, as you say, in her mind and therefore could assure her of your good understanding of new trust in her.

I cannot believe from the way she has always spoken of you, and from what I know of you you myself that she could have meant what you said, even in her most wild moments. If she thought only that there was a close friendship between any man and woman that she knew that could in any way be had by herself, she ?could be affected by that thought: and it has struck me that it is possible that if the lady we mentioned has what is called popularly a sentimental friendship for you, such even as hardly ?Miss unreadable would object to, she might possibly, having seen what I have seen so long, have said something to Miss S. or to others which Miss S. felt was wronging her. I have myself known an instance of this, when I know there was nothing to be concealed as such a friendship, but where most bitter and damning things even ?when said by the lady ^who usually meant well^ concerning a third ^(female)^ party to such a nature as Miss S’s, which is truth & purity itself – even much short of this would be inexpressibly painful. Can such a hypothesis as this in any way reconcile my view with yours – without imputing any very deliberate wrong doing to any one. We are many of us, men, and you I think especially, given to being too rational in our judgement of others – and we don’t give enough weight to the influence of emotions; frequently after all, unreadable reason is but an epiphenomenon, or rather a late product of evolution – and can reign in but a very few favoured individuals. Emotions being so commonly then in the ascendant, it follows, sadly that there are very few whom a ^purely^ rational person can thoroughly trust – I am ?rodomontading myself: but I am anxious that you should know all I think about this. It is certain unreadable that I shall never see Miss S. again but I should like her unreadable to be understood by those whom she values – Nothing, I think, would make her think ill of you – You are, in her ^view^ all she wants in love and friendship.

This shall be the last between us on this painful subject. I hope that such an acquaintance as I have now with you may continue – for I have a deep respect for you – You will understand, and therefore excuse this letter, whether it be right or wrong.'

Rive’s (1987) version of the letter is in a number of respects incorrect.